By BEN RAUZI
Photo credit goes to Apple Trailers.
March falls in the sweet spot, right in between holiday season and the summer, where good movies are hard to come by. I’ve selected a few movies that I intend to see, as well as a collection of movies that I plan to avoid as much as possible.
P.S. These is all based on the opinion of a twenty year old white male living in the Midwest who has seen lots of movies and is in no way an expert.
(1) Logan: March 3
Director: James Mangold
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook
Summary: Wolverine, the golden boy of the X-Men, is back for his last rodeo. He and Professor X are introduced to a little girl, suffering with the same demons he has all his life, mental and physical. As his healing powers are diminishing with age, Wolverine fights to protect the girl from the dark forces following her. Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman are reprising their roles as Professor X and Wolverine for the very last time.
My Take: It appears that Marvel is going in a distinctly different direction than it did with the previous installments of the X-Men franchise, which has the potential to be a very refreshing deviation, especially considering the disappointment that more recent movies have provided (I’m looking at you, “X-Men: Apocalypse”). Playing on the emotions of Wolverine -- instead of his violent nature -- is a bold move and one that needs to be taken.
In order for Marvel to stay fresh and keep its superhero-money-machine formula going, taking things in a bold new direction is absolutely necessary. To also analyze Wolverine as someone who has always been used to achieve someone else’s goals, instead of an epic renegade-style hero, is an exciting proposition. The quality of the cast and the fresh, unique nature of the storyline makes this a must see.
(2) The Zookeeper’s Wife: March 31
Director: Niki Caro
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, Daniel Brühl, Timothy Radford
Summary: It’s the story of the Warsaw zookeepers, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, who saved the lives of many people and animals during the German invasion of Poland.
My Take: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I’m a sucker for any war-time film. Niki Caro, the director for this film, has directed some great, historically-based films in recent years, such as “McFarland, USA” -- a personal favorite of mine. With a cast of stars of stars and up-and-comers, and a story that many will not have heard of, this feels like a hidden gem, especially for a history buff like me.
(3) Life: March 24
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Cast: Rebecca Ferguson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada
Summary: Astronauts aboard a space station and review samples from the surface of Mars that could provide proof of life outside of earth.
My Take: While space may no longer be the final frontier for Hollywood, with the increasing amount of space-themed movies arriving yearly, I can’t help but get excited when I see one like this. Boasting a cast of superstars and a director who is no stranger to action and suspense, this has the feeling of the next space suspense hit, circa “Alien.” Plus, there’s Ryan Reynolds (see: “Deadpool”), to provide the comic relief.
Hit or Miss
(1) Kong: Skull Island: March 10
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Cast: Brie Larson, Tian Jing, Tom Hiddleston, Corey Hawkins
Summary: Explorers stumble upon a Pacific Island with weird monsters and a giant ape called King Kong…seriously, we have all heard this before.
My Take: It’s the same story we’ve heard before, and now it’s being told again. However, there is potential here. The cast includes some of my favorites (Samuel L. Jackson and John Goodman not included above) and boasts a run time much shorter than Peter Jackson’s previous Kong effort, which I categorize as a good thing. This has a hit or miss vibe, as Kong movies have provided some high-quality entertainment in the past (bless you, Peter Jackson), but this storyline can’t stay fresh forever.
(2) Beauty and the Beast: March 17
Director: Bill Condon
Cast: Dan Stevens, Emma Watson, Luke Evans, Ewan McGregor
Summary: You all know exactly what this is about, it just isn’t animated this time.
My Take: Emma Watson and Ewan McGregor are high-quality performers, which gives me hope. So far, Disney’s live-action remake phase has been monetarily successful, while the quality has been average to slightly above average, with “The Jungle Book” being a bit of an outlier. My stance on remakes has always been one of caution and hesitance, especially when the originals are as successful and beloved as Disney classics like these. However, I think it would be wrong for me to question the all-knowing Disney, as it seems to currently control movie picture media as we know it. Plus, its failures throughout history have been few and far between.
(3) The Ottoman Lieutenant: March 10
Director: Joseph Ruben
Cast: Michiel Huisman, Hera Hilmar, Josh Hartnett, Ben Kingsley
Summary: Love story about a Turkish office and an American nurse in World War I.
My Take: I previously mentioned my appreciation of wartime movies, and this one provides a very intriguing backdrop to a romance: Turkish and Ottoman involvement in World War I, especially considering the dissolution of the Ottoman empire and the fact that we don’t see or hear much about the Ottoman’s in this setting nowadays. The negative here is a director that has previously won awards such as worst foreign film. So, the positives here are an intriguing setting, interesting story, and a high-quality cast. The questions revolve around the director’s ability to provide a piece that flows well and tells the story in an entertaining way.
(1) Power Rangers: March 24
Director: Dean Israelite
Cast: Elizabeth Banks, Bryan Cranston, Becky G., Bill Hader
Summary: High school kids are infused with superpowers and have to save the world as the Power Rangers.
My Take: For Bryan Cranston’s sake, I hope this movie is good, because that man is a legendary talent. However, when I heard about this movie, my immediate thought was that we were getting another Transformers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Hollywood money grab. In fact, I was shocked to see Michael Bay wasn’t directing this, as he seems to live on absolutely destroying beloved childhood TV shows.
Images of the action sequences that can be found online have done little to alleviate my worries. It looks EXACTLY like Transformers action sequences, just hopefully with less explosions. In the end, the costumes look kind of cool and kind of weird, and nothing else gives me hope, other than the fact that Michael Bay isn’t involved. Could this be a fun one for today’s kids? Maybe. But for former Power Rangers fans, this will most likely only tarnish your childhood memories. Proceed with caution.
(2) Boss Baby: March 31
Director: Tom McGrath
Cast: Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Lisa Kudrow, Jimmy Kimmel
Summary: A suit-wearing baby and his 7-year-old brother team up to stop the evil plot of the dastardly plot of the CEO of Puppy Co.
My Take: I could be wrong about this one. I really could. Maybe this will be another cute kids film that provides adult humor and a not completely juvenile plotline that can be enjoyable for all. But, viewing this through my second-year-college-student goggles, this seems like one that is strictly for the kids. Babies bring toilet humor of the lowest level that is meant for mostly elementary schoolers. Maybe it’s just a gut feeling, but I’ve seen the previews a few times, and it seems that the only reason to see this would be if you were taking your kids. I have to give director Tom McGrath credit for creating a classic like Madagascar, but I just don’t have high hopes for this film.
(3) Ghost in the Shell: March 31
Director: Rupert Sanders
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Michael Pitt, Michael Wincott, Pilou Asbæk
Summary: A cyborg policewoman attempts to bring down a computer hacked.
My Take: This movie did not get off to a great start. There was serious backlash to the casting decisions, as a movie based on a manga involving a cyborg created in Japan by Japanese scientists is to be played by a prominent white American actress. And unfortunately for the film, I think that has set the tone for what is to come. I am a big fan of Scarlett Johansson as an actress, but a lot of her solo work on projects where she is the lone star (see: “Lucy”), have suffered under poor writing and ill-conceived concepts. Add on top of that the fact that director Rupert Sanders is responsible for the snooze-fest known as “Snow White and the Huntsmen,” and you’ve got a recipe for failure. The only hope is that they draw from the acclaimed manga the movie originates from extensively and that they don’t do much to ruin the story for hardcore fans of the manga.